Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Course after course of seriously cooked Shanghainese food; four table restaurant (the name means “spring”) operated by a pleasant husband-wife team; on the edges of the French Concession. No menu: instead, juicy flash-fried river prawns, fatty pork shank, local vegetables, whole braised pomfret, and the like represent whatever’s fresh and seasonal; book several days in advance. 124 Jinxian Lu; tel. 86 21 6256 0301.
“Great bundles of steaming Jiangsu-style noodles—filling and inexpensive.”—Damian Harper, author, Lonely Planet Shanghai. Delicious rotating specials and lively crowd offer ambience over and above the ordinary fast food noodle shop; pick of toppings and brothy (tang) and dry (gan) variations. 479 East Nanjing Road; tel. 86 21 6322 1842 (one of many locations).
“Hipsters head to this Taiwanese eatery for basil-infused chicken and bingsha: a dessert of ice blended with mango or peanut.”—Megan Shank, senior editor, Newsweek Select. Despite the Italian name, cuisine expands to Chinese chicken, curries, and 25 varieties of noodles from all over Asia; serving staff dressed all in black. 778 Huangjin Cheng Dao; tel. 86 21 6278 0722.
“Serves up savory Shanghai specialties and steaming baskets of Cantonese dim sum delights.”—Megan Shank. Dim sum specialties come in both Shanghainese (soup dumplings, steamed buns, scallion pancakes) and Cantonese (chow fun, char-siu buns, sticky rice) versions; both made with care, using thin wrappers and fresh fillings. South block, Xintiandi (second floor); tel. 86 21 6385 8752.
Di Shui Dong
“Little eatery brings taste buds to full steam with spicy spare ribs and sour mashed beans.”—Megan Shank. Hunanese cuisine—Chairman Mao’s home-style food; makes Sichuanese food look tame; also fiery clay pot dishes loaded with chili and lazi jiding—chicken that could engulf your local kung pao in flames. 56 South Maoming Road; tel. 86 21 6253 2689.
Dong Bei Ren
“Full-on northeastern flavors ferried to your tabletop by the restaurant’s trademark perky Manchurian waitresses.”—Damian Harper. Northeastern cuisine typified by hearty food for harsher climates; tender stewed lamb shanks, hearty stir-fried greens, and corn porridge; dishes marvelously interpreted for Shanghai’s cosmopolitan sensibilities. 1 Shaanxi South Road; tel. 86 21 5228 9898.
Zao Zi Shu
“Residents line up for lettuce and tofu wraps and an array of smoothies at one of Shanghai’s best vegetarian eateries.”—Megan Shank. Clean, contemporary space; vegetarian smorgasbord includes Chinese (“mock” meats fashioned with bean curd skin) and Western (spinach dumplings, organic tea, vegetable curry) offerings. 77 Songshan Lu; tel. 86 21 6384 8000.
M on the Bund
Gourmet precursor to the whole of Bund luxury; sprawling restaurant—two rooms and terrace—is fine for dinner, and has one of Shanghai’s best Sunday brunches; dishes have occasional North African flair; try the signature slow-baked leg of lamb. No. 5 Guangdong Road, 7F; tel. 86 21 6350 9988. www.m-restaurantgroup.com
Lan Na Thai
“Thai cuisine that hits the spot, presented in refined and stylish surrounds.”—Damian Harper. Draws crowds for its richly flavorful Thai food and lush decor; vivid colors and wood carvings; located in a Colonial-era villa upstairs from the bar Face; on the grounds of the Ruijin Guesthouse. 118 Ruijin, No. 2 Road; tel. 86 21 6466 4328.
Jean Georges Shanghai
Packed-to-the-gills Three on the Bund (Shanghai’s premier shopping-dining-entertainment destination)—satellite of the Alsatian uber-chef’s restaurant empire; chef Eric Johnson makes liberal use of regional Asian ingredients such as lemongrass, mangosteen, and daikon radish; features organic produce and fresh flown-in seafood; exceptional French wine list. 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road; tel. 86 21 6321 7733. www.jean-georges.com
Sens & Bund
“A chance to dine on Michelin-starred food—skeins of black tagliolini, tender octopus, crisp-seared fish—without astronomical European prices.”—Matt Gross, “Frugal Traveler” columnist, the New York Times. Stunningly beautiful food from a classy, riverside location. 18 Zhongshan East Road, sixth floor; tel. 86 21 6323 9898.
“The best nouvelle Shanghainese cuisine in town. Succulent pork dishes will have even the staunchest of vegetarians reconsidering.”—Sharon Owyang, author, Frommer’s Shanghai. Progressive restaurant preserves the essence of rich, local cuisine (smoky fish, wine-marinated chicken, red-cooked pork tinged with sweetness) while giving it a refreshingly modern makeover. Bund Center (waitan zhongxin), basement; tel. 86 21 6339 1977.
Jade on 36
“Foie gras with dark chocolate and passion fruit jelly, anyone? Avant-garde cuisine doesn’t get any more daring, or delicious, than this.”—Sharon Owyang. Inventive combinations, whimsical presentations, and liberal use of culinary foam; budget at least three hours for prix-fixe tasting: view the boats and searchlights on the Huangpu River from futuristic 36th floor perch. Shangri-La Pudong, 33 Fu Cheng Road; tel. 86 21 6882 3636. www.shangri-la.com
Broad and blinding white space of onyx and marble; Australian-Greek chef David Laris prepares complex tasting menus of stunningly global food; separate raw bar and a martini lounge popular with expats on Thursday nights; prime views of the Huangpu River and the neon spires of Pudong. 17 Guangdong Road, sixth floor; tel. 86 21 6321 9922. www.threeonthebund.com
Chef Jereme Leung, author, New Shanghai Cuisine, does tongue-in-cheek interpretations of favorite local foods; tea-smoked eggs topped with caviar, braised pork with a foie gras-like richness, and cleverly deconstructed drunken chicken; stunning art deco space (come just to view the copper fresco); sci-fi-like night views of Pudong. 17 Guangdong Road; tel. 86 21 6321 3737.
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